The Pass Christian Fire Department’s eighteen full-time positions are filled, trained and prepared.

“We have actually a decent amount of experience in the department right now,” said Pass Christian Fire chief Dwight Gordon.

“We have a good group of guys. We’ve got the salary up to where it’s reasonable so that we can semi-compete with other areas along the coast.”

Gordon said that prior to getting the salary level increased, experienced firefighters were being recruited away. They would get trained, gain “fire experience” and then move away for better-paying jobs with other fire departments in neighboring communities.

Pass Christian firefighters going through routine training in preparation for the next emergency call.

“Our salaries weren’t high enough to hold people or lure people here,” said Gordon.

“The problem was you can’t buy experience. As we would train somebody and they would get more com- fortable, they would be lured to another department for the money. Then we would start from scratch training the new person that a lot of times have never fought fire before. It was a revolving door.”

“Now we’re starting to hold on to some people that know the town, that know firefighting,” said Gordon. “So when we’re rolling up to scenes, there’s experience coming off the trucks, which is very important to everybody. It’s important to me for peace of mind, but it’s also important to the taxpayer that is hiring these people and paying for these people to know that when they’re coming off the trucks that there’s experience coming with them for whatever the job calls for.”

In addition to a trained and experienced staff, Gordon said that there are several programs in place to help familiarize firefighters with the town. One of the programs involves each shift of firefighters performing inspections for a third of the businesses in Pass Christian.

Another is each of the three shifts performing “Pre-Fire Planning.” The teams of firefighters and businesses are rotated each year so that firefighters are allowed to become familiar with all the businesses.

“What this does is put each fireman in two-thirds of the businesses in town each year,” said Gordon. “That really helps at two o’clock in the morning when you have smoky environments and power is cut off because that actually gives that fireman a visual in their head of what the inside of that building looks like.”

The maintenance and weed-eating of the city’s approximately 650 fire hydrants are also assigned to the shifts of
firefighters. The responsibility also rotates so that each team comes in contact with the all hydrants.

“These programs are very important when it comes to true crunch time,” said Gordon who has been fire chief since 2009 after serving twenty years in the military. Deputy Fire Chief Shane Bass is also prior military and has served the Pass Fire Department for 19 years. Bass also holds the title of Training Officer. He said the eighteenth member of the department completed training last week.

Story By Maurice Singleton